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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 02-06-10
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.108/02 08-09-10.06.02
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTS AND EDITORIALS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader before and after meeting President CleridesIllegal Bayrak Radio (07.06.02) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktas and President Glafcos Clerides met today within the framework of the direct Cyprus talks. The meeting was held at the Nicosia Conference Center in the buffer zone. It began at 10:00 a.m and lasted about 90 minutes.
Before he left for the meeting, Denktas replied to reporters' questions and said that they would discuss the security issue today.
In a statement on his return from the meeting, Denktas said that he would meet with President Clerides at 17:00 on Tuesday, 11 June, when they would continue to discuss the security issue.
Asked if any progress was made regarding security, Denktas replied: "Since an agreement will not be reached unless agreement is reached on all issues, we cannot say if any progress was made."
 Statements by the Spokesman of the Turkish President on the leaders/ summitNTV television (07.06.02) broadcast statements by the Turkish Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Tacan Ildem, after the leaders/ summit held under President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in Ankara on Friday.
The Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Bulent Ecevit did not attend the meeting due to his illness. The leader of the True Path Party (TPP), Mrs Tansu Ciller, also did not attend the meeting because the Prime Minister would not attend and asked for early elections.
Following are Mr Tacan Ildem/s statement and his replies to reporters/ questions:
"Distinguished members of the press, I would like to read out the official statement issued at the end of the meeting today.
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer convened a meeting at the presidential mansion today with the leaders of the political parties represented at the Turkish Grand National Assembly [TGNA], on the issue of the steps that need to be taken for Turkey's full membership in the EU. The meeting was attended by Mr. Hasan Gulay, Democratic Left Party secretary general; Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Action Party; Motherland Party leader Mesut Yilmaz; Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development Party; and Felicity Party leader Recai Kutan.
At the start of the meeting, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and Secretary General for EU Affairs Volkan Vural submitted technical information on the issue.
Membership in the EU is the common aim of all the parties that attended the meeting.
Significant progress has been made in the implementation of the National Program which, as a candidate country since the Helsinki Summit in 1999, Turkey adopted within the framework of the EU's current expansion process, and in light of the Pre-accession Strategy and the Accession Partnership Document. In order to maintain the momentum gained by this progress and considering that the EU will assess the 13 candidate countries together at the end of 2002, and also in order to help determine the starting date of the accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU, an agreement has been reached on the topics listed below:
-- The relevant work must be speedily concluded at the TGNA so that progress can be made in light of the amendments that have been made in our Constitution and laws in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, with the Convention's auxiliary protocols, and within the framework of the Council of Europe.
-- A joint platform must be established so that Turkey's membership preparations and the important steps it has been taking are more effectively promoted before the EU member countries' public, parliaments, and political parties, as well as at the EU Parliament and Commission.
-- The bills on the agendas of the TGNA and its committees must be debated and finalized as soon as possible in order to adapt to the spirit of the EU as cited in the National Program.
It is the common expectation of all the political parties that the EU will act with the necessary care and sensitivity in return for the steps Turkey will take.
The meeting was held in a constructive atmosphere, and President Sezer thanked the party leaders for their awareness that 2002 is a critical year in terms of Turkey's EU membership, and for their contributions to this matter which they approach as a national cause, disregarding domestic political concerns."
Question: Were the minutes of the meeting recorded?
Answer: Yes but they will not be disclosed.
Question:The prime minister called the president to let him know he was not going to attend. Did Mrs Ciller do the same?
Question: How did the president view the absence of the two leaders at the meeting?
Answer: I have just disclosed the common view of the parties that attended the meeting. Thank you.
 Statements by Devlet Bahceli after the meeting of the Turkish political party leaders under President SezerTRT 2 Television (07.06.02) broadcast that Devlet Bahceli, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationalist Action Party, (NAP), held a news conference in Ankara on Friday.
Bahceli says the EU meeting held under the chairmanship of President Sezer and with the leaders or representatives of the five parties that have parliamentary groups was "very beneficial." He regrets that True Path Party leader Ciller did not attend the meeting, because, he says: "We would have liked to hear her views directly from her -- at a meeting where the minutes were recorded -- on these vital issues that the public has been debating for a long time. Unfortunately, Mrs Ciller missed this opportunity to clarify her stand that has been reflected in the media as inconsistent and unclear in certain respects."
Bahceli says he felt the need to hold this news conference as a result of the misleading statements and reports issued after the meeting. He adds: "The consistent and determined stand the NAP has been displaying from the beginning in connection with our relations with the EU, our national sensitivities, and our accession process was expressed clearly once again at this summit meeting. The following are the views I expressed on the basic issues and on the future:
"Turkey is going through a sensitive period. We are all faced with a historic responsibility. At this critical crossroads, it is our primary duty to handle these issues responsibly and by taking into consideration Turkey's long-term interests. I believe that it is our common responsibility to assess the process before us in all its aspects realistically, clearly, and sincerely.
"The EU is Turkey's basic political aim. The NAP sincerely supports our EU accession process. Turkey's candidate status was accepted at the Helsinki summit during the 57th government, of which the NAP is a member. Very important steps were taken after the Helsinki summit with a view to adapting to the EU. The National Program was drawn up, incorporating important steps, and it was implemented. During the time that has elapsed since then, we have mostly reached the main aims cited in this program. The NAP extended very important political support both for the preparation of the National Program and for the acceptance of radical reforms at the Turkish Grand National Assembly [TGNA]. We have a clear conscience in this respect.
"The National Program clearly draws the framework of the steps Turkey will take and of the obligations it has undertaken in the accession process. The NAP maintains its loyalty to these principles and the framework cited in the National Program. We are going through a very sensitive crossroads in our relations with the EU today. The most critical issue before us is the Copenhagen summit in December 2002 during which a decision will be reached on whether or not to start accession negotiations with Turkey, and during which a date for the start of the negotiations will be set. We observe, however, that even the setting of a date for a process that will last 10 to 12 years is being linked to the condition of taking certain additional steps on issues that remain outside the framework drawn by the National Program. These demands which are being imposed as preconditions are the abolishment of the death penalty including terrorist crimes, and the introduction of education and broadcasts in the mother tongue. However, these too will not be enough to advance our accession process. In addition to these three preconditions, the Cyprus question too will be brought before Turkey."
Bahceli says that the EU wants to conclude its technical accession talks with Cyprus the end of June and to admit Cyprus as a member in December 2002. He goes on to say that the EU will force Turkey to face a dilemma; Turkey will either have to persuade Denktas to agree to a formula desired by the Greeks and Greek Cypriots, or to agree to Cyprus' EU membership before a political solution is reached. Bahceli asserts: "The NAP wants our accession process with the EU to be concluded while protecting the state's basic characteristics and unitary structure, our national unity and solidarity. It sincerely wants Turkey to become an EU member with a transformation process that will not damage Turkey's social structure and that will not endanger its domestic peace and stability. The NAP believes that the three issues brought before us as preconditions cannot be viewed separately from the past, and that they cannot be handled independently from the reality of terrorism in Turkey or from the ongoing terrorist threat potential."
Bahceli stresses that the politicization process of the Workers Party of Kurdistan, PKK, should not be disregarded. He says: "It is impossible for the NAP to accept, under any circumstances, the equation brought before us with the three issues that are being imposed on us and with the Cyprus issue."
He admits that in this respect, the NAP thinks differently from the other political parties. He adds: "This brings us to a crossroads. At this point, aware of our responsibilities, I would like to hear the views of our political party leaders on the following basic issues: Do they see these four issues, including Cyprus, as absolute preconditions that must inevitably be fulfilled under all conditions? If they share our sensitivities in this regard, what do they think about our means to discuss these issues with the EU clearly and sincerely, and to develop a more realistic and healthy perspective? Do they think we have any chances of persuading the EU to change its views by accepting our justified concern, and to set a date for accession negotiations on the basis of the steps that have been taken so far? We have been told that these are sine qua non conditions and that they cannot be debated. Do the political parties share our view in this regard?"
Bahceli says that if the political parties believe that Turkey has no chances of persuading the EU and that the four preconditions must be fulfilled, then the NAP has certain proposals. These four issues, he says, must be turned into an action package and joint efforts must be made by the parties outside the NAP to ensure that the TGNA reaches the desired decisions. Those parties, he adds, will have "to set up a joint political platform in parliament for this purpose." He goes on to say: "However, an important issue will come up here because the NAP will not be part of these efforts. These efforts will not be part of the government efforts. Similarly, the NAP will not be part of the joint efforts undertaken by the parties in the Assembly. It will vote against them. You can appreciate that this will inevitably lead to certain political consequences. It is politically unethical and politically unrealistic for coalition partners that share the responsibility of joint government to oppose each other on such basic issues. If the other parties agree on acting jointly on these four issues, then they must think of setting up a new government that has the political will and support to act on them. Against the NAP's 127 deputies, this new government will have more than enough votes to have these issues enacted by parliament."
Bahceli affirms that the NAP holds the Turkish state and the national interests above all else. He says that the NAP does not want to be an obstacle before Turkey, nor does it want to allow the creation of such an impression. The NAP does not have the greed or blind ambition to remain in power, he says, and the only important thing for the NAP is Turkey and the nation.
The NAP leader asserts: "If the parties outside us think that there is no choice but to fulfill the four preconditions, and if they believe that this would be in Turkey's interests, then we are ready to make way for a new government that will remove all obstacles in Turkey's path. If there is a possibility to establish a new government, and if the necessary joint political will and support is posited, then with great peace of mind we will make way and wish that the new government will be auspicious for Turkey."
Bahceli stresses that that is exactly what we said at the summit meeting. He notes that his party has been unjustly criticized lately in connection with the EU, but that it is not important because the NAP will continue to uphold national interest above all else.
In reply to the first question posed during the question and answer part of the news conference on whether the coalition could dissolve if an agreement can be secured among the four parties in the Assembly, Bahceli says: "This is exactly what we are saying. We are saying that another government, which shares the political will displayed by these four parties that are in agreement over the preconditions, can emerge from the TGNA and be more productive and efficient."
In reply to another question on whether he will cast a vote of confidence for another government set up by these four parties, Bahceli says: "You are very impatient. Turkey's greatest weakness today is that it is impatient."
Responding to another question on the leaders' summit, Bahceli explains that the other leaders will also feel the need to make public their views. "However," Bahceli adds, "it is my impression that the political parties at the summit are in unity of views with regard to the issues presented as preconditions."
Another correspondent says that the government is keeping the capital punishment file in the Prime Minister's Office and in reply to his comments as to claims that the NAP is making investments for elections, Bahceli says: "This is very wrong. Neither us nor you should pay any attention to those claims."
In reply to another question on whether the prime minister asked Bahceli to head the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, Bahceli says: "I was informed of this by Husamettin Ozkan. He asked me whether it is suitable for me to hold the cabinet meeting on Monday. I, in turn, said that it was all right for me".
Bahceli then says that the fact that he will chair the meeting does not mean that he is assuming the position of prime minister by proxy adding that the "proxy mechanism is not valid" for the prime minister's office. Bahceli continues by explaining that the prime minister is heading the government and fulfilling his duties of a coordinator.
In reply to another question on whether the fact that he was asked to chair the upcoming Council of Ministers meeting constitutes an act of appeasement after his statements of a possible withdrawal from the coalition, Bahceli says: "Do not have such distorted thoughts."
Bahceli rejects a correspondent's question on whether the 57th government is on the verge of collapse, adding that it is beneficial if everybody reads the document distributed at the news conference. Explaining that "the NAP seeks for the implementation of an agreement reached at the Assembly. We are asking whether there is such a possibility. We are saying that we are ready to make every kind of sacrifice if there is the possibility of reaching such an agreement and if a government can be established."
In reply to a question on whether such a government will be an early election government, Bahceli says: "It is wrong to assume outright that such a government will be established. These are our thoughts and it is up to our prime minister to assess the situation. The initiative to continue with or dissolve the present government or establish another government lies with the honorable prime minister. What I am doing here is to respond to the various unjust accusations levelled against the NAP to the effect that it is blocking the path to the EU. We are saying that the NAP is only expressing its views"
Explaining that withdrawing from the government does not constitute an obstacle, Bahceli says that the TGNA can proceed with the work under way without the NAP, adding: " If we had the necessary majority in Parliament, we would resolve these problems without dragging Turkey to this point. We have 127 deputies and there are 550 deputies in Parliament. The existing political parties have an agreement on these preconditions. Therefore they can continue their efforts."
In reply to a question on whether he met with the prime minister before issuing statements on a possible new government, Bahceli says: "No."
In reply to yet another question on why a statement was released as though a consensus was reached, Bahceli says: "It was the right thing. A statement must be released after such meetings. If it is carefully observed, it is seen that both the final statement and we say that those pre-conditions or legal adjustments regarding accession to the EU should be resolved at the parliament."
Responding to another question on whether he will support an censure motion against the prime minister submitted by a NAP deputy, Bahceli says: "Such an act is not binding on the NAP. "
Recounting that the EU summit at the Cankaya Mansion was a very high-quality meeting, which was held in a very mature atmosphere, Bahceli says that all the party leaders expressed their views openly. "In my opinion," Bahceli says, "this summit constitutes a good starting point for our country."
In reply to a question on reports that there was a dialogue between Bahceli and Yilmaz at the summit, Bahceli says: "No, there is no such a thing. Every party tried to clearly explain their opinions within the time limit, and we had the opportunity to learn everybody's opinions without any mediator."
In reply to a question on the impact of the prime minister's absence from the meeting, Bahceli explains that the DLP representative was at the meeting, adding that the prime minister's absence does not mean he was not fully informed about the meeting.
Bahceli then says, in reply to another question, that the NAP seeks the elections to be held on time, in April 2004, and not early elections. Explaining that the NAP is saying the same exact things it has been saying all along, Bahceli adds: "I am saying that if the two coalition parties make a habit of resolving issues with the other parties in the parliament, it will be better for the country if they transform themselves into a new government."
 Statements by Mesut Yilmaz on the leaders SummitCNN TURK Television (07.06.02) carried a recorded 40-minute interview with Mesut Yilmaz, Motherland Party [ANAP] leader and deputy prime minister, by Taha Akyol in Ankara on the 'Nothing But the Truth' program.
Taha Akyol starts off by explaining that he will focus on the EU summit, which took place at the Cankaya Mansion under President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
In reply to a question on whether Turkey's path to the EU was paved at the Cankaya summit, Yilmaz says that the leaders, who attended the summit meeting, had not put forward any new opinions in addition to their known ones adding that "there were no surprises."
Akyol then asks whether a unity of views was achieved on lifting the death penalty and measures of liberalization on mother tongue as indicated in the president's press release, Yilmaz says: "The press release was prepared by the president. He read it to the party leaders and released it after our approval. We have no problems with this press release."
In reply to a question on whether the European Convention on Human Rights requires Turkey to adopt new arrangements on lifting the death penalty and the mother tongue issue, Yilmaz says that it is all a matter of interpretation.
Referring to Devlet Bahceli's remarks to the effect that a new government formula can be placed on the agenda and the Nationalist Action Party [NAP] can withdraw from the coalition in the event that the EU cannot be persuaded to see their point of view, Yilmaz says: "Mr. Bahceli expressed at the Cankaya summit the same views he expressed at the news conference. Actually, the document he read at the summit and the news conference are one and the same."
In reply to a question on whether he thinks there will be a government crisis, Yilmaz says: "No. In my opinion, Mr. Bahceli meant that it is out of the question for the NAP to change its stand. He explained that the NAP, however, does not seek to block the way to the EU. The other parties in the Assembly can resolve this issue at the parliament without differentiating between opposition and government." Referring to the prime minister's health, which exacerbates the political situation in Turkey even more, Akyol then asks whether another coalition other than the present tripartite coalition is possible. In reply, Yilmaz says: "Mathematically, it is possible; however, only later contacts will show whether it is possible politically as well."
When asked whether the issues that Bahceli had put forward were preconditions for Turkey's EU full membership, Yilmaz says that there were issues, which were open and not open to bargaining for candidate countries, adding: "The Copenhagen political criteria, however, are not open to any bargaining."
Noting that the most strategic target of Turkey was to start membership negotiations, Yilmaz notes that the Copenhagen political criteria should be fulfilled to achieve this target, adding that other issues could be negotiated and discussed and fine tuning could be made according to the domestic conditions. Yilmaz then explains that there had always been differences of interpretation between the NAP and the other coalition partners since the formation of the 57th government, adding that the EU political criteria were not something prepared specifically for Turkey.
Recounting that there are basic differences of opinion between the NAP and ANAP, Yilmaz says that Bahceli believes that the EU can make an exception for Turkey if it succeeds in explaining its terrorism issue to Europe. Yilmaz continues: "Mr Bahceli and the NAP believe that it is unacceptable for the EU to pose these preconditions at this stage before the start of the negotiation process. We do not agree with this view, but, we have to respect it."
In reply to a question on whether ANAP is ready to cooperate with the Felicity Party and the Justice and Development Party on this issue, Yilmaz says that he would first like to reply to Bahceli, who referred to the Cyprus issue in his address: "The Cyprus issue is not part of the political criteria. Cyprus is an issue which Turkey should bargain and negotiate until the end. Turkey has many rightful arguments. Turkey has the power of negotiating on the Cyprus issue and is under obligation to do so."
In reply to a question on the view of President Sezer on the EU political criteria, Yilmaz says that the president displayed an "extremely constructive approach" at the last National Security Council meeting and the party leaders' summit. Yilmaz continues: "In my opinion, the president believes that Turkey's integration with the EU is an inevitable part of Turkey's modernization process and that Turkey has to take some courageous and radical steps to this end."
When asked to clarify the EU demand on education in the mother tongue issue, Yilmaz says that the EU does not ask any country to conduct its education system in any language other than its official language.
Noting that the EU will not make a decision on enlargement at its summit in Spain's Seville city, but that the summit in Copenhagen in December would be a scene of historic decisions, Yilmaz adds: "So Turkey should overcome this bottleneck and the obstacles on the way of some specific issues within the next two months."
In reply to a question on whether the different sectors in Turkey will be able to surmount the obstacles on the EU path, Yilmaz says: "For me, the future of the Turkish-EU relations is as important as the government problem. Consequently, Turkey cannot live with such a bottleneck for long."
In reply to another question on whether Yilmaz means that he will agree to a new government formula, Yilmaz says: "With your permission, let us take it step by step. It was understood from today's meeting that it is impossible to overcome this bottleneck even with a compromise within the coalition government. Actually, it was the same during our meeting at the hospital, while Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was receiving medical treatment, despite his constructive attitude. We have a new situation now, however. The two parties other than the main opposition party, which boycotted the meeting, said they were ready to contribute to a solution to this issue at the parliament. Consequently, this means that the parliament is now the platform where this bottleneck will be overcome."
Responding to Akyol's remarks that Bahceli said that a new government is necessary to surmount this bottleneck at the parliament, Yilmaz says: "If an agreement among the coalition government and opposition parties cannot be reached on overcoming this bottleneck, a new government will inevitably come onto the agenda. At first, however, the issue should be taken within the framework of the Assembly."
In reply to a question on whether the prime minister's health has become an affair of the state, Yilmaz says: "No. At first, the prime minister's illness is only physical. His mental powers are adequate."
Commenting on whether he viewed the president's initiative to convene such a summit positively, Yilmaz says: "Yes." Explaining that this initiative shows the importance attached by the president to the EU process, Yilmaz adds that the summit was also important in showing that the solution to such issues should be sought within the parliament.
In reply to a question on how he evaluated the latest developments on the Cyprus issue, Yilmaz says that it was still impossible to say that the talks had approached and even focused on a solution. Stressing that Rauf Denktas' initiative for direct talks had relieved Turkey and placed the possibility of a solution on the agenda, Yilmaz alleges that this initiative had also created difficulties for the Cyprus government. "In my opinion," Yilmaz continues, "the more Mr Denktas launches initiatives and adopts a compromising attitude in order to corner the Greek Cypriot side, the more the Greek Cypriot side will be cornered." "In this way," Yilmaz explains, "the EU membership which they think they have in their bag will be endangered."
Noting that Denktas was aware of the importance of the EU relations to Turkey, Yilmaz says that Denktas could not be expected to make "unilateral concessions." "However," Yilmaz continues, "both Mr. Denktas and Clerides can take mutual steps for the solution of the Cyprus issue."
Explaining that Turkey should give something to the EU so that it corners the Greek Cypriot side and Greece, Yilmaz adds: "This something can be the steps that Denktas had taken and will take and fulfilling the political criteria." Yilmaz notes that steps that Turkey will take will positively reflect in the Cyprus issue and positive developments about Cyprus issue will, in turn, accelerate Turkey's full membership process.
 Statements by Islamic leader Recai Kutan after the Turkish leaders summitAnkara Anatolia (07.06.02) reported that Felicity Party (SP) leader Recai Kutan said on Friday, ``leaders of all political parties, except for State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Action Party (NAP), have agreed on annulment of death sentence. Bahceli said that their sensitivity about death sentence has still been continuing. He noted that that they were concerned about Turkey`s future, and added that they would not support annulment of death sentence.``
Responding questions of journalists following the leaders summit at the Presidential Office under the chairmanship of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Kutan said: ``As you know, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit could not attend the meeting due to his health problems. However, I could not understand True Path Party (DYP) leader Tansu Ciller`s decision not to attend the meeting.``
``During the meeting, Foreign Affairs Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and Turkey`s Secretary General for the European Union (EU) Volkan Vural gave information about Turkey`s full membership process. Later, representatives of political parties having seats at the parliament explained their views,`` he said.
Noting that a considerable part of the Turkish people wanted to become a full member of the EU, Kutan said: ``When it was the European Economic Community in the past, the EU had characteristics based on the Christianity. However, it has lost these characteristics in the course of the time. Turkey`s full membership is of great importance also for the EU. Muslim Turkey will make a valuable contribution to efforts to enrich the EU.``
Recalling that racist trends had accelerated once again following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, Kutan said: ``These trends will come to an end with Turkey`s membership. During the meeting, we, as the SP, stressed that the EU full membership should not be used as a tool of domestic policy. If a joint understanding is developed among political parties, we can easily solve problems such as the death sentence, broadcasting and education in mother tongue.``
Kutan said that SP said ``yes`` to broadcasting and education in mother tongue. However, he noted, there was a need for a constitutional amendment about broadcasting.
They considered people`s learning their mother tongue as the most natural human right, Kutan stated.
Reminding the reporters that the capital punishment had not been executed in Turkey for a long time, Kutan said that unforgettable sorrow was felt in the past and that they could not remain indifferent to that sorrow.
He expressed his views about Cyprus question during the meeting, Kutan pointed out.
Kutan said: `` The Aegean and Cyprus issues are national issues. It is not possible to make concession on them.``
Democratic Left Party (DLP) secretary general Hasan Gulay expressed views similar to their views, Kutan noted.
Kutan pointed out that Motherland Party (ANAP) leader Mesut Yilmaz and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan also voiced ``similar views.``
Despite the other political party leaders and their representatives who attended the summit meeting, NAP leader Devlet Bahceli expressed different views on abolition of capital punishment and education and broadcasting in mother tongue, Kutan said.
Kutan quoted Bahceli as saying that their sensitivities about capital punishment and education and broadcasting in mother tongue still continued and that it was impossible for them to make concessions of those issues.
Kutan said: ``On one hand, Mr. Bahceli noted that they thought that Turkey had to enter the EU while on the other hand, he stated that they would not abandon their sensitivities. Bahceli also said: "It seems that the political parties around this table are in a consensus of opinion and compromise. They can come together and make it come true. It is impossible for us to help this process. If our attitude is thought to cause a problem in the government like an obstruction in the path of the EU, I would especially like to state that we can think of withdrawing from the government and will help formation of a new government`.``
After the statements of the leaders, President Sezer made a long evaluation, Kutan noted.
Kutan stated: ``President Sezer noted that especially these three issues should be settled as soon as possible and pointed to the obligation that Turkey should begin full membership negotiations at the same time with Bulgaria and Romania. Then, the text of the statement was prepared.``
Kutan said that Sezer distributed the text to the participants of the meeting and later he asked them if they agreed with the text. The participants said they agreed including NAP leader Bahceli and the meeting ended.
When asked if any one of the participants commented on Bahceli`s words that he might withdraw from the government, Kutan said no one, including ANAP leader Yilmaz who made a comment on this matter.
Kutan said that Bahceli clearly said that his party could withdraw from the government and help the formation of another government. He remarked that the NAP continued to oppose education in mother tongue but was not persistent on keeping the emergency rule in certain cities in Turkey`s southeast. He added that there was no tension between Yilmaz and Bahceli.
``About capital punishment, all leaders except Bahceli want to abolish death sentence. From Bahceli`s statements, it is clear that his party continues to have worries for Turkey`s future, therefore they would never support efforts to lift capital punishment.``
Responding to a question, Kutan said that Ecevit`s health problems were not discussed during the meeting.
 Islamic Party leader Erdogan says the Belgian model is good for CyprusAnkara Anatolia (08/06/02) reported that AKP [Justice and Development Party] General Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan made statements on the occasion of the opening of his party's Umraniye District Headquarters.
Criticizing the government during his address, Erdogan said that "This government has finally run into the wall. There is a Turkey without a leader, and without a prime minister."
Erdogan, stating that, in public opinion surveys, 75 percent of the people express support for membership in the EU, said that "Whether we want Europe or not, it is a continent on which 4 million of our fellow citizens are living. In a world that is getting so much smaller, can we really resist joining the EU? We in fact cannot resist it."
Reminding his listeners that 65 percent of Turkey's exports go to EU countries, Erdogan said that "This door is open to you. Just imagine what it will mean to you once they close it."
Erdogan, stressing that Cyprus [i.e., a resolution of the Cyprus dispute] is not a precondition for accession to the EU, said that there are but three conditions, and that these are broadcasting and instruction in the native language, and the elimination of the death penalty.
Noting that TV and radio broadcasts are already being aimed at Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia from certain neighboring countries, Erdogan said that "We are saying that this broadcasting is already being done. If we legitimize this by amendments to the RTUK [the Radio and Television Law], at least we could appear to be magnanimous."
Stressing in addition that Turkey's official language of education is Turkish, Erdogan said that it is impossible to make any concession on this. However, he noted that it would be possible for individuals to attend private courses in their mother tongue offered through private initiatives, and said that "We would lose nothing through this."
Erdogan asserted that it is a mistake for the abolishment of the death penalty to be tied to Abdullah Ocalan [the leader of the Workers' Party of Kurdistan - PKK].
Pointing out that the leaders of the three political parties making up the current government have, in the National Program, given the promise that no one with a file before the National Assembly will be executed, Erdogan said that "Now, when they are beginning to lose points and drop off the screen, they are maneuvering."
Erdogan continued by saying that "We see the matter of the EU as a civilizational project. We are the descendants of a nation that established a civilization. We are prepared for integration, but this nation is in any event not amenable to assimilation."
Pointing out that in a number of European countries, various different languages are spoken within the same country, Erdogan noted that French is spoken in the Wallonia section of Belgium and Flemish in the Flanders section, and said that:
"We say regarding Cyprus that the Belgian model is a good model. We are calling for political equality. We say there should be two politically equal societies, Southern Cyprus and Northern Cyprus. It should be represented as Cyprus, but there should be two equal communities together on the island."
Mentioning also the statements by Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli following the summit on the EU held at the Presidential Palace, Erdogan said that "Mr. Bahceli is saying that they should form a government. There is no need to say that they should form such a thing; just resign without delay. In democracy, remedies are never exhausted, and democracy always provides. Let him just say that 'I cannot reach agreement with this government, and cannot compromise with it', and then let him withdraw."
Asserting that the AKP, as a party, will fulfill its responsibilities, Erdogan said that "We will provide support on condition of elections by November at the latest. We are prepared to make every sort of sacrifice."
Proposing the establishment of an EU committee so that time is not lost in terms of the EU, Erdogan continued as follows:
"Let each of the parties provide representatives for this Committee. Let this committee work this summer without any break. Let it call upon experts as needed. But let there be on one hand a decision for elections. And beforehand, [revisions to] the Political Parties Law, and the Elections Law... Is the sultanate of the party leaders to be eliminated? I am all for that. But do they really have the heart for this, I wonder? If so, let us do it immediately. But they have already, in the Assembly, put loopholes into the compromise text in terms of the Constitutional amendments to which they had earlier put their signatures. The AKP gave a positive vote on all 37 of the 37 articles in question. Why? Because it had promised."
Stating that Turkey's problem is a crisis in confidence, Erdogan said that "There is currently a political and governmental crisis in Turkey. In order to eliminate them, we must move urgently and immediately toward elections."
Erdogan/s address was frequently interrupted by slogans of "Prime Minister Tayyip!" and "The government must resign!"
 Press Conference by the Turkish Prime Minister at his residence in AnkaraCNN TURK Television (09/06/02) broadcast a news conference by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit with reporters in the garden of his residence/office in the Oran district in Ankara.
Mr Ecevit first read a short written statement and then replied to reporters/ questions as follows:
"In the past one month, I encountered certain health problems. One of these was an infection and the second a fractured rib. Both problems have been resolved. The doctors have now noticed a damage related to the spine. They have turned their interest to that. Therefore, they say that a full rest of two-three weeks is necessary. I am trying to comply with this request by the doctors without fail. I am also trying to fulfill my duty pertaining to the Council of Ministers by working night and day at home. The government that I head is taking great care to act in harmony and conciliation. Therefore, this government is able to respond to every problem we encounter on a timely basis. As it happens, we did not experience any shortcoming during my days of rest."
Question:Mr Bahceli had proposed to submit the EU preconditions to the Assembly. You, in turn, had remarked: We agreed not to agree with Mr Bahceli especially with regard to the death penalty issue. If we solve these issues at the Assembly, Mr Bahceli told us that he will not make a government issue out of this.
At this point, however, Bahceli is saying that the parties that can agree can come together and form a government. What is your assessment of Bahceli's statement?
Answer: He did not only say that. As always, in his latest speech as well, Bahceli used his words very carefully. He said: Given that we are unable to agree on the matter of the death penalty, the other partners of the government can find other votes to solve this problem. Bahceli commented on other alternatives only if this option fails. As you will recall, I had discussed this matter with Mr. Bahceli quite some time ago. I said: We are unable to reach an agreement with you, but this is a very important issue. Therefore, if you will permit, we will try to garner sufficient votes at the Assembly without the contribution of the Nationalist Action Party [NAP]. He, in turn, noted that this will not disturb him at all. He did justifiably note however that this should not turn into a habit or a widespread practice. In that case, a different government should be established, he said. I fully agree with him. Mr Bahceli raised this issue in a very realistic manner. If we can ensure the necessary number of votes together with some other parties -- be they members of the government or not -- the death penalty issue will be automatically resolved, and there will not be any problems with our coalition partner, the NAP, in this regard. I find it beneficial to point this out clearly.
Question: You were unable to attend the National Security Council meeting and the EU summit, and you will not be able to participate in the Council of Ministers meeting tomorrow. Various comments were made in this regard. It was said that Ecevit is gradually withdrawing from government affairs. Can you comment on this?
Answer: There is definitely no question of my withdrawing from government affairs. First, as I mentioned in my statement regarding my latest health state, the doctors asked me to fully rest for two-three weeks. Given that they conveyed this view to me as an expert opinion, I accepted it. I am being very careful. It will not be possible to attend lengthy meetings during these two-three weeks. However, as I said in my opening statement, at home I am concerned night and day with matters of the Council of Ministers, the government, and the state. I am making the necessary telephone calls and using other means of communication to this end. I definitely do not have any intention of distancing myself from government duties, nor do I have such a right as long as I am the head of the government and serve as prime minister. I am continuing and I will continue to take close interest in all the matters concerning the Council of Ministers.
Question:A while ago, with regard to the EU you said that conciliation can be reached with other parties on issues such as the death penalty and broadcasting and education in Kurdish, as long as this is not turned into a habit. If you reach this conciliation, is this not making a habit of it, as far as Mr. Bahceli is concerned?
Answer:No. Mr. Bahceli specifically noted this point. He demonstrated that he will show understanding on this matter vis-a-vis the other coalition partners. However, he said that this should not become a widespread practice; and I feel the same way, as I have felt from the beginning. We can resort to such a practice, which runs counter to coalition-opposition relations, only very rarely on matters that are vitally important. Other than that, if we turn this into a common practice, there is no meaning to the concept of government. In that regard, Mr. Bahceli is right, and I concur with him.
Question:There is much speculation regarding your health. The written reports emanating from your house note that you are well, but the cameras cannot observe you. There are also many claims and question marks about you in the press. These must naturally upset you personally. A while ago you said you had two problems, and now you have another problem which the doctors are trying to treat. Are you considering to publicize your health report in a bid to counter these allegations? Or, are you planning to announce your health problems clearly, in line with the doctors' opinions?
Answer: Without seeing any need for a statement on our part, certain doctors who have not seen me or discussed anything pertaining to this matter with us are making certain statements and allegations. Most of these are false allegations that do not even deserve a reaction. Naturally, there are some valuable doctors who refer to the problems I mentioned and express views within this framework, but to tell the truth, I resent the fact that there are doctors who say totally unlikely things and thus provide material for the media. I find this strange in terms of their profession. As I told you today, we had a problem in two issues -- an infection and a fractured rib. Both these problems were resolved, but in the meantime, the doctors detected a damage related to the spine. They attached importance to this issue in order to avoid any risk. They prescribed full rest for two-three weeks. For example, they advised against lengthy meetings and they want me to be very careful on matters that may harm the problems concerning the spine. I, in turn, am doing my best to be careful. There is no point in saying anything further. Whatever we say, false allegations are being made, and will be made. These will automatically be proven false as time goes on. It will transpire in time that none of these have anything to do with the truth. For example, a reference was made to Parkinson's disease and it was said that my hand is trembling. Everything is open to the public, there is no such thing. Such exaggerated allegations are being made. This is very regrettable, but as I said, I divulged the whole truth to you.
Question:The opposition is criticizing. It is said that the government has ended de facto, and an early election process has begun. Can you comment on this?
Answer:There is no such thing as the government's ending de facto. The government is working with all its might. As I said, this three-way coalition of conciliation and harmony has displayed a rare model of success. The government is functioning in harmony on all matters, with the rare exception of certain issues. Consequently, there is definitely no need for the government to cut short its term. This is not a valid point, and I do not believe that this will be the case. This government has succeeded in working with the kind of harmony unprecedented in previous governments. My physical absence of two-three weeks is not disrupting the government work in any way, because this government is used to approach problems in harmony. I am proud of this. This is an important achievement. In this convalescence period, which I hope will be short, I continue to contribute to the government work to the best of my ability, and I will continue to do so.
Question:Are there plans for restructuring in the Democratic Left Party [DLP]? DLP deputies are coming to visit you in groups of 10. Did you issue a call on Mr. Kemal Dervis on behalf of the DLP? Are Dervis and Ismail Cem candidates to be your successors in the future DLP?
Answer: We did not issue any calls on anyone. This is not the right time. The government work is continuing without any hitches, and it will continue in the future as well. The DLP is the party with the strongest structure. Many people did not want to believe this in Turkey, but the 1999 elections vindicated this view. There are still people who do not believe this. The next elections will also prove them wrong.
Question:Will you quit your office in order to open the path before the DLP before the next elections and grant an opportunity to a new leader candidate? What kind of timing do you have in mind?
Answer:We should not discuss on the timing for that yet. This is an extremely sensitive issue, and it is not right to turn this into a question of speculation now. Anyway, there is more than enough speculation and scenarios in the headlines and on television screens every day. I believe that it would not be right to discuss this matter at present. There is a time for everything. When the time comes, if there is any subject concerning the party, we will address it. I must state, however, that the DLP has an extremely solid structure. This has been proven. Therefore, I do not find it necessary to introduce a structural change.
Question:You said that the doctors prescribed two-three weeks of rest. When did this period begin? Will you be able to resume your work in your office at the end of this period?
Answer:I did not mention definite figures. I said two-three weeks as a likelihood. I am hoping that this rest period will end in the shortest time possible. However, as I said, I am not really resting at home. Even in a lying position or without moving much, I am contributing as much as I can to party and government work. Party administrators are visiting my house frequently, but at present Rahsan Ecevit, in her capacity as deputy leader of the party, is attending to them.
Question: You referred to Bahceli's remarks about not making a habit of resorting to opposition votes. However, Bahceli gave a very clear message. He posited preconditions not only with regard to the death penalty, but also on Kurdish education, broadcasting in the mother tongue, and the Cyprus issue. He said that taking these matters to the Assembly for a solution constitutes making a habit, and for the first time he pronounced the words I would withdraw from the government both publicly and at the summit meeting at the Cankaya Mansion. Do you not consider this making a habit? Has the magic not been lost?
Answer:First of all, I believe that there will not be a problem between the government partners in anything other than the death penalty issue. The NAP stand regarding the death penalty is clear. I am hoping and wishing that we will reach a conciliation on this issue as well, because evidently the abolition of the death penalty is a sine qua non condition for the EU members. Mr Bahceli is aware of this, as are his colleagues. In that respect, I believe that they will also assist in the solution of this problem. I further believe that Mr Bahceli will contribute to the solution of this problem within the traditional state spirit. Other than that, I do not believe that serious differences of views will emerge between the government partners on matters pertaining to language, culture, and education. There will be discussions and arguments. I may also have differences of opinion with my colleagues. This is natural. Not that there is such a disagreement at present. I do believe, however, that issues related to culture and language will not create a serious problem between the government partners.
As for the Cyprus issue, this occupies a separate position. The Cyprus issue is not the EU's issue. It is the problem of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, and it concerns Greece. In a way, it is related to Britain as a guarantor state. Other than that, no country has posited the condition that we reach an agreement with one party or another. This is not a subject that is under the jurisdiction of the EU. I believe that there will not be any differences of views on this matter between the coalition partners. Everyone knows that we will not accept any solution that threatens the rights and freedoms of the Turkish Cypriots. It is known that this is the view of the government, as well as the NAP. In other words, I believe that there will definitely not be a problem with regard to the Cyprus problem. This is a very important national issue. The independence and freedom of the Turkish Cypriots is highly important, not only for the Turkish Cypriots themselves, but also in terms of Turkey's security. I firmly believe that no problems will emerge with the NAP in this regard.
Question:At the Prime Minister's Office, you had referred to a neurological ailment, saying that this can change after one hour. What is your ailment?
Answer:I told you what I have. Two problems have been resolved, another has cropped up. Like I said, something related to neurological matters can crop up at unexpected moments. Efforts are under way to solve this problem as well.
Question:For the first time, your coalition partner declared both publicly and at the leaders summit meeting that his party could withdraw from the government.
Answer:Please, do not dwell on such negative interpretations. Bahceli outlined his views very clearly. If the coalition parties make it a habit of reaching compromises with the opposition on many issues, the existing government loses its meaning. This is a correct diagnosis. There is no need to -- excuse the expression -- scratch this any further.
Question:Criticism was leveled to the effect that your ailment caused a government vacuum. Will you feel responsible, especially if Turkey misses the EU train?
Answer:No. I believe that my few weeks of ailment or convalescence will not affect our relations with the EU in any way. These two matters are not related. I believe that our membership in the EU should definitely be finalized. Whether I am indisposed or convalescing for a few weeks, I continue to hold this belief. In fact, the entire Turkish nation wants to gain the right for full membership as soon as possible. There are discussions on this subject, but this is not related to my illness.
Question:Under the existing circumstances, if you were assigned to establish the government again, what kind of government would you set up?
Answer:Have mercy. How can I comment on so many hypotheses? Let me just state that I do not have any complaints about the current government.
Question:You have not gone to the Prime Minister's Office for about one month because of your health problems. You say that the doctors want you to rest for another two-three weeks. When will you return to your office? How much longer will you rest?
Answer:I cannot give you a definite answer. I told you the truth in total openness. Now, my watch tells me that the soccer game with Costa Rica is about to begin. I would like you to excuse me.
Question:One last question. Will you attend the Seville summit?
Answer:I do not think this will be possible. Whether I attend or not, this makes no difference, because this is a question of our national policy.
 Statements by Thomas Weston to NTV television on his forthcoming tour on the Cyprus problemNTV television (05/06/02) broadcast an interview with Thomas Weston, US State Department Cyprus special coordinator, by Umit Enginsoy in Washington. The interview is the following:
Question: We are undergoing a very critical process in terms of the Cyprus issue. Do you intend to visit the region in the days ahead of us?
Answer: As a matter of fact, I intend to visit the region during the weekend. I will arrive at Ankara on Tuesday. After Ankara, I plan to visit Athens and the island. I also intend to take certain steps in Europe. Within this framework, I intend to hold certain meetings in Copenhagen, Brussels, and Madrid in order to ensure certain steps will be taken following my visit in the region. I want to hold meetings with the EU.
Question:What is your main goal in the region this time? What will you try to talk the sides into?
Answer:As you know, the Security Council has recently put the Cyprus issue on its agenda. In this regard, the Security Council has demanded that an agreement be reached on the basic issues in June. As you know, the UN Secretary-General has recently visited the island. During my visit, I will naturally make utmost efforts [for a solution] in the region. I will make efforts to ensure that the sides follow a schedule. The United States believes that it is possible to reach an agreement on the basic issues in June. There is no doubt that following this agreement, there will be additional processes and additional agreements will be made.
Question:I was about to talk to you on this issue. The leaders of both sides note that the sides have not made any progress. They have been holding negotiations for five months. There is only one month left until the end of June or the end of the negotiations. Do you believe that it is possible to postpone the schedule? Do you believe that it is possible to make a change in the schedule?
Answer:We do not have much information on the details of the negotiations. There is no doubt that we are not giving any instructions regarding the negotiations. I personally believe however, that important progress has been made during the past five months. I believe that important progress has been made with regard to the basic issues. There is no doubt that further progress will be made in various fields. With regard to postponing the June deadline, June is not our final deadline. We have merely noted that it is possible to reach an agreement on certain issues in June. June is also important due to the EU membership. We still believe that it is possible to reach an agreement in June. If an agreement cannot be reached in June, however, we will be in favor of granting additional time in order to ensure further progress. This date may be postponed in order to enable the sides to make certain decisions. We believe that certain steps may be taken with regard to the Cyprus issue until the end of this year.
Question: In your opinion, what is the most realistic schedule for the solution of the problem?
Answer:The EU's expansion process and the decisions that will be made during the European Commission's meeting in December will naturally be decisive in terms of determining a schedule. I believe that under these conditions, the date or the schedule will be determined prior to the Council's meeting in December. There is no doubt that progress is of utmost importance. It will be much better, however, if a solution is found prior to the European Commission's meeting.
Question:If an agreement is not reached, how will these negotiations result? The EU leaders have noted that Cyprus will definitely become an EU member. They have stated that Cyprus will become an EU member, regardless of an agreement. The US ambassador to Greece issued a similar statement several months ago. He stated that even if a solution is not found, Cyprus will become an EU member. Does the US ambassador to Greece represent the United States' views?
Answer:The Helsinki Council and the decisions that will be made in Helsinki will determine whether or not Cyprus will become an EU member. A solution to the Cyprus issue is not a condition for Cyprus' EU membership. When making a decision on whether or not to accept Cyprus' membership, however, the EU will certainly take these issues into consideration. The Helsinki decision will be of utmost importance to this end. As you know, the EU's only official decision on this issue was made in Helsinki. With regard to what will happen if an agreement is not reached, I believe that the United States' views on this issue are very clear. We believe that it is possible to reach an agreement on this issue. We believe that it is possible to reach an agreement that safeguards the interests of both sides. We believe that if both sides truly want to resolve the issue, it is possible to reach an agreement. There is no doubt that we are in favor of a solution. We want the sides to reach an agreement prior to Cyprus' EU membership. We believe that this is possible. We also believe that no one should make any speculations on this issue.
Question:As a matter of fact, this is the problem right now. If an agreement cannot be reached, will you continue to extend support to Cyprus' EU membership? You are not an EU member, but you are influential over the EU.
Answer:There is no doubt that we are in favor of Cyprus' EU membership. We believe that this membership process is very beneficial in terms of finding a solution on the island. We are ready to make utmost efforts to this end. We want the sides to reach an agreement before Cyprus becomes an EU member. Moreover, we do not want anyone to make speculations on this issue.
Question: As far as I understand, you are currently making efforts to find a solution in Cyprus and you do not want to talk about what might happen, if a solution is not found.
Answer:Speculations are based on theories and hypotheses and therefore, we are in favor of avoiding speculations on this issue. The United States' stand with regard to this issue is very clear. The remarks made by the US ambassador to Greece do not represent the United States' views on this issue. I do not have all the information on the ambassador's remarks, but there is no doubt that his remarks were made within the framework of the United States' policies. I am certain, however, the ambassador's remarks were positive.
Question:He noted that even if a solution is not found, Cyprus will become an EU member.
Answer:I do not know his exact words, but the EU had previously issued a statement to this end. The EU had noted that Cyprus will become an EU member and that a solution to the Cyprus problem does not constitute a condition for this membership. I believe, however, that when making a decision on Cyprus' membership, the EU will take all these points into consideration. The United States supports the decisions reached in Helsinki. This is our stand.
Question:Let us talk about an additional problem. Reports to the effect that the Greek sector -- the Greek Cypriots -- have deployed certain attack helicopters to the island. In your opinion, how will this affect the negotiation process?
Answer:There is no doubt that we want to make certain decisions on this issue. Our stand is very clear, however. The sides are currently holding direct negotiations. The United States believes that this is the sides' last opportunity. This is a very important opportunity in terms of enabling the sides to reach an agreement that will serve the interests of both sides. This is why the sides have to take all kinds of measures. They have to take security and military measures. In this regard, we believe the efforts to increase the weapons should be limited. We also believe that the number of the military maneuvers should also be limited. We believe that efforts should be made to avoid undermining the negotiations.
Question:I understand. I am aware that you do not want to speculate. The Cyprus issue has an impact on Turkey's EU membership process, however. Let us think of the worst-case scenario. We believe that there is such a possibility. Turkey had issued certain statements with regard to northern Cyprus. What will you do if an agreement is not reached? In other words, are you trying to maintain Turkey's hopes regarding the EU membership? Are you trying to prevent Turkey from carrying out an intervention in northern Cyprus?
Answer:The United States' stand on this issue has always been very clear. We have always supported Turkey's EU membership. We certainly support Turkey's full membership in the EU. We have always pursued such a policy. Furthermore, I have personally extended support to Turkey's EU membership during the past decade. In this regard, the United States will view all developments that serve this purpose as positive developments. I want to reiterate that we believe that it is possible to reach an agreement on the island. We will make utmost efforts to this end. Furthermore, we will avoid making any kinds of speculations on certain hypotheses on this issue. We believe that these speculations adversely affect the solution process. Of course, I can only speak on behalf of the United States. We know exactly what to do. I believe that it is of utmost importance to avoid making speculations. I also believe that the sides that might affect the solution process should also avoid making speculations.
Question: Mr Rauf Denktas primarily and the Turkish side have certain complaints. Honorable Denktas believes that the United Nations and the United States are pressuring him. Is this true? Are you imposing pressure on him? Will you impose pressure on Rauf Denktas during your visit in the region? Will you impose any pressure on him?
Answer:I do not believe that honorable Denktas is directly accusing me of imposing pressure on him. I do not believe that this reflects the truth. I agree, however, that pressure is being imposed on both sides. We are talking about an opportunity to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. Even if an agreement is not reached between the sides, a solution that will be ideal for both sides should be found. Both sides will have to make concessions. It is necessary to reach a consensus. We are talking about very complicated problems -- both from the political and the emotional standpoints. There is no doubt that concessions should be made. Both sides should make concessions. We are not in a position to impose pressure on individuals. I believe that the pressure is being imposed on the sides, rather than the individuals.
[B] COMMENTS AND EDITORIALS
 Columnist in Radikal newspaper asseses the results of the leaders/ summitRADIKAL newspaper (08.06.02) publishes the following commentary by Ismet Berkan under the title: "Government or the EU?"
The full text of the commentary is as follows: "All we have is tension in the aftermath of the summit on the EU that President Ahmet Necdet Sezer held. We also have nothing more than the information that Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's state of health did not allow him to attend even a two to three-hour meeting. Should we feel happiness, or should we feel sorrow?
The situation is now very clear following the news conference by the leader of the Nationalist Action Party [NAP] Devlet Bahceli:
The promise he made earlier in connection with the removal of the death penalty is still valid, but the NAP could withdraw from the government if the problems related to broadcast and education in the mother tongue are solved despite the NAP's opposition.
Responding to Taha Akyol's questions on CNN Turk after Devlet Bahceli's remarks, the Leader of the Motherland Party [ANAP] Mesut Yilmaz did not rule out the possibility of setting up a new government.
Spokesmen of various opposition parties also started telling the TV stations, following Bahceli's news conference, that early elections were drawing closer.
Devlet Bahceli repeated most clearly what he has been saying right at the outset. The NAP leader has revealed that he stated his remarks during the summit too. This means that the NAP, in line with its earlier promise, will not turn it into a government issue if agreement is reached in the Grand National Assembly on removing the death penalty. However, the NAP will not consider it as "ethics of the government" if moves are made to resolve other issues related to broadcast and education in the mother tongue through the same procedure.
It is debatable whether this approach represents a consistent policy on the part of the NAP. It should be remembered that the NAP itself resorted to such an approach in the beginning of the year, when it gave its approval for the cooperation with the opposition of its two coalition partners for amending [articles] 312 and 159. The NAP was then left out.
When consulted on the death penalty issue by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the same Bahceli and NAP, gave a blank check to Ecevit by responding, "if you resolve this without our involvement, we shall not turn it into a government issue."
However, when it comes to broadcast and education in the mother tongue the NAP says, "stop there."
In my view, this is not a consistent policy.
Devlet Bahceli has an assumption, which he voiced during the summit and which is in connection with Cyprus:
"The EU's intention is to conclude the technical accession talks with the Greek Cypriot side by the end of the current month and to admit Cyprus as a member in December 2002. This is now clearly understood. Turkey will thus be left face to face with a dilemma. The following will be demanded in return for giving a timetable to Turkey: Turkey should consent to the solution of the Cyprus problem in line with the expectations of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side. It should persuade Rauf Denktas on this, or should at least consent to Cyprus' membership in the EU prior to a political solution. Turkey should also refrain from putting into effect the measures it has announced if Cyprus is admitted in the absence of a Cyprus solution."
There are other options on Cyprus that Devlet Bahceli disregarded, intentionally or otherwise. I tried to refer to them in the beginning of the week. Rauf Denktas' proposals on 29 April are forward-looking. The Greek Cypriot side has not yet responded to them. If the Greek Cypriot side turns them down or tries to dilute them, the EU will come to see the realities and, at the end of the year, will be able to give more time to the negotiators. That is to say, the full membership of Cyprus could be deferred until after a solution, provided, of course, that the Turkish side continues to search for a solution in goodwill, without abandoning its fundamental principles.
Devlet Bahceli made yet another regrettable remark during the summit. He said, "These demands, which are imposed as conditions, stipulate that the death penalty should be removed in a way that will also include terror offenses. Allowing broadcast and education in the mother tongue is also put as a condition."
It is correct to refer to "conditions," but to refer to an "imposition" is wrong, because everyone knows that the Copenhagen Political Criteria have to be satisfied if full membership negotiations are to begin. It has been common knowledge at least since the December 1999 Helsinki Summit that the three factors Devlet Bahceli has referred to are among the basic criteria.
Nothing is being imposed. What we have is a club and its principles. The declaration by Bahceli on the one hand that "the NAP wants to join the European Union,"and his reference to an "imposition" of the basic principles on the other, is something one cannot understand.
There would not be any problem if Bahceli described the three basic issues with the sentence, "it is not the time now; we shall do it later," because Turkey itself will set the time.
At the point reached, one can read what the NAP and Bahceli have said to mean, "either the government or the EU." To put it more correctly, at least I see it this way.
Which one will the other two coalition partners choose once they are faced with making a choice? How will the ANAP and the DLP decide when making a difficult choice between short-term stability and long-term interests? One is curious to know what Bulent Ecevit thought about when he read the notes of the summit.
Would the government reach a breaking point because of the EU? We shall search for a reply to this question in the coming days.
Let me state my initial guess: The coalition partners will opt for the government.